Saturday, October 17, 2009

Looking for Ideas for a Teacher Looking to Use Tech

Alright, folks. Let's help a teacher out. Reader Pam is a vet teacher looking to take advantage of her school's great tech resources. But don't take my word for it; here's what she had to say:
I'm curious about setting up a monitored blog/message board site for students. Where do I begin? Is there a "Blogging for Dummies?"
I also want to use texting, but resist because of all of those "lovely" teachers here in Florida that seem to cross the line, normally beginning with innocent texts.
I work in a very modern school that is wireless and is equipped with promethean boards, webcams, and student response systems. I want to effectively utilize the tools afforded me!

My first suggestion was setting up a Ning to engage the students in a communal and collaborative online environment. But then I thought, hey, let's ask the readers and get some of your ideas.

So, what do you think. If you had Promethean boards, webcams, and student response systems, what kinds of apps would you be using in class?

PS -- One of the things I really liked about this letter was that it addressed the fact that some teachers -- and not just in FL -- cross the line for one reason or another in communications with students. It's relatively easy to see how this can happen -- especially in the age of instant irretrievable communication. So, in terms of 'best practices', what are some of the guidelines you set out?

For instance, I refrain from friending students on FB (because while I occasionally use FB to illustrate things in class and while I encourage students to create groups on FB as an online presence for clubs and activities, I don't actually use my own FB feed for classroom purposes). I also insist on students having at least one Twitter feed exclusive to my class that I am at liberty to check at random for unseemly and digitally irresponsible DMs and Follows. This is all part of establishing the groundwork for the student's engagement with digital citizenship.

I am also vigilant about my own maintenance of separate Twitter feeds for my different roles as teacher, ed tech dude, musician, and dad. And I demonstrate this to my students via TweetDeck and explain to them the variety of ways I use Twitter. Because good modeling of digital citizenship is half the battle.


  1. I would like to know what Pam teaches, as this might lend more insight into what applications I would recommend and in what contexts.

    It would also depend upon what she wants her kids to do, or what her kids want to do with tech in the classroom.

    That being said, I would recommend she create a wikispaces community so her students could learn how to collaborate. I would also recommend using skype to collaborate with students across the globe. Lastly, videocasts with those webcams would give her kids opportunities to create new articulations of their learning.

  2. I agree that a ning is the way to go. It's a gated community with so many features that make learning, publishing and creating fun yet safe. It's also simple to set up and control. I used a ning all last year with 160 high school sophomores and am doing the same again this year (in addition to a separate journalism class ning). I have a list of rules on my sophomore ning that you are free to use or alter.

  3. I use for texting info to them (alerts) and allowing them to text in and get assignments. This way they don't have your number and you're always communicating to the group.

  4. Throw yourself into it.

    My new name for the digital immigrant/native divide is old mess / new mess.

    Old Mess is grading papers individually. New Mess is figuring out how to grade a wiki page that sixteen people worked on.

    More at my blog today.

    Old Mess is getting chalk dust out of your clothes from lecturing so much. New Mess

  5. Google voice is a great way to incorporate texting. Students can text directly to your phone or inbox and you can respond from the inbox to their phones without giving out your personal number.

    You can also set up distribution lists once they text to you and you have their unique gv ID

  6. I use class blogs and web sites for information sharing, communicating with my students, resources for the students, and for student discussions.

    Students also subscribe to their class's blog via email and/or phone text address to get updates from me about the class and assignments.

    I use a student response system for instant feedback on student understanding and as a formative assessment.

    In general, I always suggest that teachers start out slowly when doing something new. Here are some links to help you get started:

  7. These suggestions are really good. I did not know there were websites that help send out text messages, or the where people can leave you messages. As a kindergarten teacher, both of these options would be nice with my parents. I am currently taking a technology course for my masters and have learned so many great new things this semester already. (we still have half a semester left!)
    I am actually in the process of starting a blog with my class to share with the parents what they did at school today. I think wikis are interesting, but I am still slightly confused by them. I am curious what other suggestions people will comment on this blog. Keep the suggestions coming!

  8. I would suggest that Pam select a few kids who would benefit from this (and not the bright-eyed, bushy tailed ones either)and get them to help her. Some of these kids would love to part of a team to help teach her.


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